The First Presidential Yard Sign in Brighton in this Winter Snow

The First Presidential Yard Sign in Brighton in this Winter Snow

Elya Zhang, Yang Gang. Brighton [Photo: Dahpon Ho, 2/1/20]

As seen in Election Day and in search of lawn signs in Brighton, candidate lawn signs proliferate in Brighton come election season. This season an early bird sign sprouted on a snow covered lawn in the Meadowbrook neighborhood, perhaps the first of its kind in town.¹

Yangster Elya Zhang planted her sign as part of a successful petition drive to get Yang on the NYS Democratic primary ballot, and also in time for the Iowa caucuses. Won over by Elya’s enthusiasm, I joined the gang.²

(left) David Kramer signing Elya Zhang’s petition; (right) newly minted member of the Yang Gang: cap, buttons and flyer [Photo: Daphon Ho]²

Today, Elya offers:

Why I support Andrew Yang

The “Yang 2020” yard sign is the very first election sign I put up since arriving at this country eighteen years ago.  I think it might be the very first one that I’ve seen in Brighton for this coming election season. For me, it is a greeting to my neighbors more than just a personal statement.  My greatest hope is to start a conversation; we don’t all have to agree on the same things.

I came to the U.S. for graduate school in 2002 and became an American citizen in 2012.  Over the years I have seen all kinds of election yard signs on people’s lawns and I think it’s a wonderful sight: we pay our taxes and fulfill our civic duty, and meanwhile we can also exercise the right to express our opinions freely.

Therefore this January I got my very first yard sign to express my support for Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.  I feel animated about his proposal for building a “human-centered” capitalism, a step up from our current version of institutional capitalism.  The latter’s emphasis only on corporate profits isn’t working for most of us.  Amazon pays zero dollars in taxes while closing down 30% of American shopping malls and driving smaller stores out of business.  Trillion-dollar companies like Google are mining our data, the oil of the 21st century, for free.  Meanwhile, automation technology and AI are rising unstoppably at the expense of real human jobs, and the vast majority of us do not benefit from the so-called record high stock market.

Andrew Yang believes that right now is the crucial time to human up and rewrite the code of the 21st century economy: respect each human’s intrinsic value, provide every American a basic minimum income (without resorting to a wealth tax) to fuel creativity and mutual respect, and build a “trickle-up” economy.

Husband and wife team, Daphon Ho and Elya Zhang. Both are history professors at the University of Rochester. [Photo: David Kramer]

I think it’s beautiful how Andrew Yang put it, “My life and my humanity depends on more than whether some institution decides to stamp my hand.”

I didn’t just plant a yard sign: in January I, like many other supporters across the state, went door-to-door collecting signatures from registered Democrats in order to get Andrew Yang’s name on the New York State ballot.  Over 21,000 signatures were collected around New York.  In many cases, it surprised me that instead of getting a reply of “Yes” or “No,” more commonly the reply was “Who is that?”

So, I’m moved to put up the yard sign to let people know that Yang exists.  It turns out that there are more people in our neighborhood who are taken by Yang’s ideas than I originally expected.  Two minutes after the yard sign was up, my neighbor walked over and said: “I am with you.” —And there is a forty-year age difference between us!

One of Andrew Yang’s favorite sayings, and one I personally find both funny and serious, is MATH—“Make America Think Harder.”  As the snow melts, maybe I’ll get the chance to chat with more neighbors and do just that: think harder.

Elya Zhang, Meadowbrook Neighbor

On January 25th outside the Brighton Memorial Library, a snow person was gathering petitions for Pete Buttigieg’s delegates to be on the primary ballot. (Snow person with David Kramer)


¹ A reader mentioned she saw some kind of Bernie Sanders placard in the Roselawn neighborhood. Nonetheless, Elya’s sign is almost surely the first Yang sign in the Meadowbrook neighborhood.

UPDATE: On Sunday, 2/2, on Park Avenue near East Avenue in the city of Rochester, I discovered another Yang sign.

Park Avenue near East Avenue in the city of Rochester, 2/2/20 [Photo: David Kramer]

² I am rooting for Yang as we are fellow alums from Brown University. Yang is our fourth presidential candidate: Charles Evans Hughes ran as the Republican nominee in 1916 (losing to Democrat Woodrow Wilson); Republican Bobby Jindal and Democrat Lincoln Chaffee both made their party’s televised debates in 2016. Actually, because I knew Chaffee when he was my Senator in Rhode Island, I cast a write-in vote for him in the 2016 NYS primary. Apparently, that day I was the only write-in voter as the poll watchers at first weren’t sure what to do. Recently, Chafee filed to run for president as a Libertarian.


Election Day and in search of lawn signs in Brighton

Why I voted for Adam Bello and a trip down Talker political memory lane, 2015 – 2021

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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